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Music: the proms pack

Last summer, junior pupils from Cumbria and Stockport visited one another's neighbourhoods and kept "sound diaries" of what they heard and saw. After weeks of preparation with composer Barry Russell, their music was incorporated into an orchestral score and performed at a Prom concert at the Royal Albert Hall last July. The piece, "Town and Country", was played by professional musicians and primary pupils, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and warmly received.

Now the BBC, which promotes the Prom concerts, is making part of that experience available to children. Later this month, 26,000 primary schools will be invited to apply for The Proms Pack: Music amp; Environment (pound;2.50), which includes a CD of pieces played at the Proms that reflect the spirit of particular places. It also contains a rich hoard of advice to enable young musicians at key stage 2 to compose and perform pieces of their own.

To Barry Russell it's important that children feel they're helping music take new directions now, as well as learning about where music has been in the past. He is inspired by the example of the great music educator John Paynter (emeritus professor at York University), and by the ideas of the late Cornelius Cardew, whose Scratch Orchestra in the 1970s brought together an extraordinary combination of composers and improvisers.

He has worked with groups wherever people gather - in museums and football grounds, as well as in schools, and looks forward to teachers who pick up the Proms Pack doing much more than giving instructions and encouragement. "I hope teachers can say 'our music', because everyone should be directly involved in making it happen."

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